Program Description


The Gene Researcher for a Week program was created to foster the growth of genetic clinician-scientists through high school students in Canada.

Gene Researcher for a Week (GRFAW) program is your opportunity to gain insight into the world of genetic diseases through a mentorship in one of Canada’s top genetic labs. During student’s designated school spring break, this program is designed to provide a learning experience for students that have not had extensive lab experience from other programs or work experience opportunities.

Participants can learn how genes cause human genetic disorders and how top scientists translate these findings into treatments and cures for genetic diseases. In this program you will participate in the activities in the lab with as much hands on experience as possible. The GRFAW mentoring program is a great opportunity for YOU to learn about human genetics research and connect with the scientific community.

Students gain insight into the world of genetic diseases by conducting real, hands-on science experiments, such as profiling their own DNA. Participants also learn how genes cause human genetic disorders and how top scientists translate these findings into treatments and cures for genetic diseases. The GRFAW mentoring program is a great opportunity for young scientists to learn about human genetics research and connect with the scientific community.

In the years to come, these emerging scientists may be the ones who will make the ground-breaking discoveries in the lab, and translate these findings to improved patient treatment and care.

Selection Criteria: selected students will be placed with their host scientists during Spring Break. Due to the high number of students that apply, candidates are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Must be a resident of Canada
  • Must be a high school student in grade 11 or 12 (or equivalent for Quebec residents)
  • Must be 16 years of age by January 1st of the participation year
  • Must have a high academic standing (overall GPA of 85% or higher)
  • Must show an interest in pursuing a career/education in human genetics
  • Must be well rounded in all areas (academic, volunteer and extra-curricular activities)
  • Must complete application form and submit all required documentation by deadline

Application Deadline: 5:00 p.m. EST December 31, 2016.

CIHR- Institute of Genetics is responsible for:

  • Placing students in labs as close to their home as possible. PLEASE NOTE: up to 35% of the selected applicants may be placed outside of their own city or province,
  • Assisting with the booking of accommodations, if required,
  • Air travel and accommodation grants will be made available to those students who will be required to travel based on location of their placement. These grants will be for a set amount and awarded only to those requiring out of town travel

Students accepted into the program will be responsible for:

  • For those students traveling outside of home city, all travel and accommodation costs must be paid by student up front. Reimbursement of expenses will be in accordance with the grant available for that year. Copies of receipts and invoices will be required. NOTE: Exceptions to this may be made where required due to financial constraints,
  • Any additional air travel/accommodation costs beyond the grant provided (often there are no costs as CIHR-IG places students as close to home as possible). NOTE: Amount of travel grant will be allotted once CIHR-IG has determined how many students will require the grant.
  • Travel arrangements to and from the lab (including airfares and accommodations if required)
  • Ensuring online parental consent/waiver has been submitted by parent or guardian,
  • Ensuring online teacher recommendation has been submitted by recommending teacher,
  • Completing an exit survey and essay upon completion of the program.

Student placements are either one or two students per lab and we cannot guarantee placements with other students. NOTE: It is CIHR-IG’s goal that no eligible student should be denied access to the program for financial reasons. CIHR-IG will endeavor to keep costs down for participants by placing them in labs closest to their home location. In cases of financial hardship, where travel is required, CIHR-IG will endeavor to help students raise the required funds through program sponsors or other means.

The CIHR – Institute of Genetics believes that investing in budding scientists is crucial. If we are to cure genetic diseases in the future, we must start building and networking the scientific community now.

The CIHR – Institute of Genetics is looking for mature, capable high school students age 16 and over who are passionate about science and intrigued by genetics. If you have an overall average of at least 85%, can write a brilliant essay to demonstrate your excitement about science and your advanced communication skills, and you can convince a teacher to write a stunning reference for you, please apply!

Applications that have been received by Dec.31, 2016 at 5:00 pm EST, are being processed and will be forwarded to the review committee.

Teacher recommendations letters are due by January 9, 2017.

Teachers are notified via email to submit their recommendations for students.

Students who are accepted to the program will be notified via email. Inquiries about the Gene Researcher for a Week (GRFAW) program can be forwarded to cihr-ig@mcgill.ca.

  • STUDENT APPLICATION FORM Apply online here for the 2017 Gene Researcher for a Week program. Program application is open from November 1st, 2016 and closes December 31, 2016.
  • STUDENT ESSAY Essay is uploaded within the application. Please prepare a 300-500 word essay explaining why you should be a Gene Researcher for a Week. To have the best chance of acceptance please ensure your essay includes all of the following:
    • Overall average across all subjects as a percentage grade for your previous complete academic year
    • Why you are passionate about science and how you have pursued that interest in science at school, work or in the community
    • Character attributes that would make you a good scientist
    • Your future education and career plans
    • What volunteer and extra-curricular activities you participate in, and what you have learned from them
    • How you hope to benefit from this experience
    • Why we should choose you to be a GRFAW
  • TEACHER RECOMMENDATION Teacher's will be contacted, via their contact information submitted in the student application, to submit teacher recommendations. Deadline is January 9, 2017 but it is recommended that teacher recommendations be submitted by December 31, 2016 wherever possible.